Gross profit percentage. The first of these is the gross profit percentage, which is found by dividing the gross profit for the period by net sales. sales – sales returns and discounts = net sales net sales – cost of goods sold = gross profit gross profit/net sales = gross profit percentage Previously, gross profit has also been referred to as gross margin, markup, or margin of a company. In simplest terms, it is the difference between the amount paid to buy (or manufacture) inventory and the amount received from an eventual sale. Gross profit percentage is often used to compare one company to the next or one time period to the next. If a book store manages to earn a gross profit percentage of 35 percent and another only 25 percent, questions need to be raised about the difference and which percentage is better? One company is making more profit on each sale but, possibly because of higher sales prices, it might be making significantly fewer sales. For the year ending January 31, 2009, Macy’s Inc. reported a gross profit percentage of 39.7 percent but reported net loss for the year of $4.8 billion on sales of nearly $25 billion. At the same time, Wal-Mart earned a gross profit percentage of a mere 23.7 percent but managed to generate net income of over $13 billion on sales of over $401 billion. With these companies, a clear difference in pricing strategy can be seen.
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The gross profit percentage is also watched closely from one year to the next. For example, if this figure falls from 37 percent to 34 percent, analysts will be quite interested in the reason. Such changes have a cause and any individual studying the company needs to consider the possibilities. Are costs rising more quickly than the sales price of the merchandise? Has a change occurred in the types of inventory being sold?
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